Find out why the tiny house movement is taking off at this off-the-grid getaway in regional Victoria
There’s a simple pleasure in waking up to the sound of magpies, with sunlight streaming in through gaps in the curtains. It gets even better when you realise that today, there will be no phone calls, messages or obligations. At Shacky, your time is yours to spend offline however you like – whether that’s walking through olive groves (and meeting the occasional alpaca), reading beside an open fire or cooking eggs and bacon on a potbelly stove.
Sometimes, good things come in (very) small packages – and this is exactly the thinking behind the growing popularity of tiny houses. Shacky is located in regional Victoria, in a secret location within a working farm that is only revealed once you book online. It’s so unassuming that it’s easy to miss at first. Driving through dense olive groves, the first glimpse of the tiny house is its sloping terracotta-coloured corrugated iron roof.
Shacky’s clever design means that comfort isn’t sacrificed for closeness to nature. Not only is the house completely self-sufficient and solar-powered, it has also been designed by Melbourne-based group MvS Architects (using all-Australian materials) to blend in with its surroundings. The entire home spans just a few square metres; its diminutive front veranda holds a potbelly stove with a hot plate on top and a kitchen complete with an esky, sink and shelves filled with tea, coffee and cooking utensils. At the back of the house is a drop toilet, shower, and high-end toiletries. Inside the single room, there’s enough space for a soft double bed, table and chair. Put any thoughts of claustrophobia out of your mind: the best feature about the room is its wall-length window looking out into rolling hills; you’re inside, but you could just as easily be sleeping under the stars.
Shacky is the brainchild of Melbourne-based entrepreneur Andrew Hubbard, who decided to embrace the tiny house movement in response to an increasingly stressed-out population. “By simply escaping for a night or over the weekend, you’re able to realign with yourself, relax and recharge,” he says. “There is a real struggle with work/life balance and Shacky aims to solve this.”
Last year, the Shacky crew set up a crowd-funded prototype in the Otways for several months, and advertised it through AirBnb. It received a hugely positive response, and so Hubbard set out to find a home for the first permanent Shacky. Eventually, he found Vicki and Steve Daniel, two retirees living on an olive grove in north-eastern Victoria on a property flanked by rolling green hills. These days, the Daniels look after their olives, alpacas, sheep and their Shacky guests, ensuring that they’ve got all the firewood and food they need.
After all, Shacky is all about letting go – and while spotty phone reception might feel frustrating at first, settling into a slower lifestyle soon becomes a joy. Evening is lit by fairy lights, the glow of the fire and a million stars overhead; and a bottle of Stone Dwellers Chardonnay (from the local Strathbogie Ranges) tastes even better with a meal you’ve cooked yourself on a wood-fired stove.
It’s no surprise that tiny houses are taking off, and in Victoria, Shacky is leading the way with a sustainable, comfortable experience that feels like a luxe alternative to camping. So jump in the car, switch off and live tiny, just for a weekend. You’ll feel better for it.
Time Out stayed as a guest of Shacky.